Napping while reliving memories stabilizes people’s ability to recall them later
“You must remember this,” Sam the piano player crooned to Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. The couple might have recalled even more about their days in Paris if they’d been napping when Sam played the tune again.
Replaying memories while people are awake leaves their memories subject to tinkering. But reactivating memories during sleep protects them from interference, researchers in Germany and Switzerland report online January 23 in Nature Neuroscience.
The finding shows that the brain handles memories differently during sleep than while awake, says Sara Mednick, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego who was not involved in the research. Armed with this new knowledge, she says, therapists may be able to destabilize traumatic memories and overwrite the bad memories with good ones, then solidify the new memory with a nap.
In the new study, volunteers played a Concentration